The Long Island Merlot Alliance (LIMA) was formed in 2005 with the goal of developing quality standards in the production of Long Island merlot and to establish Long Island as the leading region for merlot in the New World.
To date, the going has been slow with that mission. Though I know the group has done extensive research and analysis, little of it has been published or shared publicly.
Still, the group has released several vintages of Merliance, a cooperative, 100%-merlot wine made using two barrels from each member winery.
It's an interesting -- and challenging -- concept for a still-young organization because, as membership increases, it's bound to become more difficult to craft an integrated, singular wine from all of those various barrels of wine grown and made at different wineries using a diverse array of vineyard and cellar practices.
Long Island Merlot Alliance 2007 Merliance ($35) shows the power an intensity of the vintage certainly, but was released perhaps too early.
The nose is dense with black cherry, blackberry and plum with light baking spice, burnt sugar, toasty oak and subtle grilled herb character.
On the palate, it balances power with grace -- like the best Long Island merlots often do -- but still shows a bit too much oak. A ripe, intense core of dark fruit lurks beneath the oak with vanilla, licorice, rosemary and a little graphite accents.
The finish is long with a woodsy herbal note and cedar character... and just a little heat.
While deserving of a re-taste in 6-12 months, the oak is just a little too prominent right now for my tastes.
Producer: Long Island Merlot Alliance
AVA: Long Island